'traditional' wedding ceremony?? what does that even mean??

What's wrong with tradition

If you haven't read many of my blog posts, or looked at my galleries, you may not realise that I'm not big on 'tradition'. I AM big on personal touches, unique wedding days and being true to yourself. From the menu, to the outfits, the decorations and even the music, you've spent hours making sure that your day reflects both of you, so why leave out the ceremony.

Weddings are steeped in tradition, from asking for a woman's hand in marriage, through to tossing the bouquet, there are so many parts of the day that 'have always been done that way' and some people may look at you sideways if you choose to go your own way. On YOUR wedding day. Think about that for a minute.

So, if you know where these traditions come from, you can decide whether or not to include them on your day, and if you feel the need, you can explain to Aunt Hilda exactly why you won't be doing it THAT way on YOUR wedding day.

bride placing ring on grooms finger melbourne wedding photography

That all important moment when the rings go on to seal your vows

But, is it still legal??

You would be VERY surprised at how much of your ceremony is absolutely needed for you to be legally married. Example, the paperwork. You are officially married the moment the second person says "I DO" and it's heard by the celebrant and witnesses. The paperwork is to make it easier for your to change your name if you choose to (another blog post about that shortly), and for the government to track weddings, because it's illegal to be married to two people at the same time in Australia.

Signing the paperwork, it doesn't actually mean that you are finally married, that's already happened!

before the ceremony

"But you can't see each other, it's bad luck!".

Bollocks. There, I said it. This is NOT true. This 'tradition', harks back several hundred years. There was a time when a marriage was considered a business deal between the two families, and the couple may never have even met. I'm not saying that arranged marriages are a bad thing, I know several couples where their culture has dictated an arranged marriage, they've agreed after meeting and are happily married many years later.

However, back when dowries were a thing in England and America (and then Australia), the bride was essentially being SOLD to the groom's family. If the groom were to see the bride before the ceremony and not like what he saw, the whole deal would be off, and much embarrassment and anger ensued. That's how several feuds and even wars started.

But it adds to the excitement! Yes, it does, but you can do other things instead. Why not get ready TOGETHER, help each other with those finishing touches, maybe sneak in a romantic glass of champers before you leave??

A FIRST LOOK is awesome, has been a staple of American weddings for decades, and is becoming very popular in Australia, so much so that our Wedding Magazine has a whole page on it, because we love the emotional and romantic moments as well as how relaxed and excited you are.

two grooms preparing for wedding ceremony melbourne same sex photographer

Helping each other get ready is a fabulous way to settle your nerves.

being walked down the aisle

Again, this one goes back to the days of business deal marriages. The father, or head of the household, literally hands over OWNERSHIP of his daughter to another man. EEP! Very outdated, much sexism, so wrong! Not to mention, what if your dad has passed, or you have two dads, or your family isn't quite the nuclear two parents 2.3 kids arrangement? Here's some alternatives:

BOTH parents walk you down the aisle. Why not, they both made you what you are. No favouritism, no sexism, much love!

Walk down TOGETHER. That's right. Meet at the top of the aisle and walk in together. Perfect if you've had a first look, or your very nervous about being the centre of attention.

Kids/dog/bff. These are all important in your life, why not give them an awesome and important role in your wedding day??

ON YOUR OWN. You're an independent person, you don't belong to anyone, you are partnering with someone amazing, so treat it like an equal partnership.

dog as matron of honour mature bride phillip island wedding

Furkids make the best wedding attendants!

giving away the bride

Surprise! This is NOT a legal requirement in any wedding ceremony in Australia.

To be honest, it's not actually that common, and has often been replaced with the parent's promise, where your officiant asks the parents to stand, talks about how you both feel they are incredible parents and are grateful for the values that they raised you with, and asks them to support you both as you begin your married life. They answer We DO and sit down.. all done, everyone dabs their eyes with a hankie at the overflowing love.

bride's side v groom's side

Oh man, I HATE this one! Another medieval flashback. the groom stood to the right, so he could hold the bride's hand with his left, keeping his sword arm free if there was a fight for the bride (red wedding anyone?).

Of course, if you are having a medieval cosplay ceremony with swords, make sure you get it right (or left, if you are left handed), and make sure you book me as your photographer!

But think about this:

Is there a tattoo that's meaningful to you that you want to show off during the ceremony?? You bought a sleeveless gown so that people could see it, so make sure you face it to your guests.

Do you have a particular hair style that you want to see in pictures?? If your hair is only down on one side, you want THAT one to be the one facing the guests and the photographer, otherwise all they will see are curls instead of your face.

Will you be entering from the side of your ceremony?? make sure your fiancé is on the other side so they can see you !

bride and groom sword fighting geelong wedding photographer

Sword fights aren't common at modern weddings, so the traditions around them don't HAVE to be observed.. but that doesn't mean you CAN'T have swords!

bridesmaids and groomsmen

I actually LOVE the idea of bridesmaids. Traditionally, the bride would have 10 maiden attendants dressed identically to her, in order to confuse any evil spirits that may want to harm the newlyweds. Hey bestie, want to take one for the team?? Groomsmen were there to defend the bride in case of attack. Were medieval women really so powerless and frail??

Honestly, if you want them, have them, and if you don't want any or don't want to offend 17 other friends, then don't have them. But, here's a thought.

How about introducing the wedding party. Get them to all walk down the aisle one at a time, while your officiant explains how they know you and how important your friendship is "Brayden is Michael's best friend since primary school, they have both been on the same cricket team since they were 8". It's a great way for your guests to get to know them and a fabulous ice breaker at your reception.

While we are on the subject of the attendants, yes Yes YES you can have mixed genders! It's probably the most asked question and definitely the most 'new normal' tradition I have seen at weddings. Bridesman, Groomsmaid, Best Girl, they are TOTALLY a thing.

Last thing. Your witnesses do NOT have to be part of your wedding party. They can be your parents, they can be just friends that didn't want to be in the wedding party. In Australia, your witnesses MUST be over 18, and must understand and hear what is said. So choose whoever you want! One of my favourite weddings, the two brides didn't tell ANYONE until it was time to sign the paper work, then they pointed at the guests and went 'eenie meenie minie mo" and the other went "witnesschu, I choose you!" SO much fun and laughter at that ceremony.

wedding party fun photograph melbourne photographer

choosing the people to stand with you on your wedding day should be fun, not stressful, so do what you want and have who you want!